A simple solution for succulent, smoky pork barbecue sans smoker
We own two smokers, but they are not the type of equipment that can be set up and forgotten about. Specific temperatures, wood supplies, and maybe even water in a pan must be maintained.
Considering the several feet of snow outside, and especially blocking the door to the shed, where the smokers are housed, they will not be used any time soon.
How can you get a good pork barbecue without using a smoker? Believe it or not, it can be done simply in a crock pot. Now that’s a piece of equipment you can set up and walk away from until you’re ready to eat.
Attempts have been made using pork roast or tenderloin, but Boston butt is the way to go whether you’re using a smoker or not.
This section of pork comes from the upper part of the shoulder on the front leg of the pig, and it’s usually sold with the bone intact.
Unless you have plans for that bone, have your butcher take it out. Why pay per pound for something you will more than likely throw away?
Sometimes the butt is sold with the bone already out but that costs more. I was very lucky to find a nice four-pounder without the bone on sale.
Think about it. I have four pounds of meat compared to perhaps three to 3.5 pounds after the bone is removed. It’s definitely a bargain!
By the way, it’s a given that the meat might have to be cut apart here or there to get the bone cleanly out. You want those sections!
If in a package, you will find them tied together into one big roast with butcher’s twine. Just remove the twine before cooking...well, for this recipe anyway.
Personally, most times I have found pork to be on the dry side. To solve this problem the meat will be brined overnight before cooking it. This salt water soak will help to open up the meat fibers to allow the fat to flow into the meat as it melts and keep it moist and juicy.
It also allows seasonings and sauces, if simmered in them, to do the same thing. If there is a lot of extra fat hanging off the butt, it’s alright to trim some of it off as there is plenty within the Boston butt itself.
When you’re ready to begin the cooking process, set up a six-quart crock pot (spray the inside with nonstick cooking spray) and set the temperature on low.
Place the brined Boston butt inside. Some folks rinse the brine off the meat before cooking but that’s really not necessary and the salt helps to flavor the meat itself.
Whether you use homemade barbeque sauce or store-bought bottled, make sure to add two cups of diced onions. When all is cooked and ready to be devoured, you’ll appreciate the addition of those onions.
Cover the meat with six cups of sauce. Cover it and cook for 6-8 hours. The meat should be so tender it simply comes apart with a fork.
With my crock pot (Hamilton Beach 3-in-1 with tall, round crock pots), the four pounds of pork only took six hours before perfection was achieved.
Depending on how your equipment works it could be the same or longer, but you want it so tender that it shreds without effort.
I serve up my pork barbecue sandwiches two ways. First off, large potato buns for both. The first way is simply with barbecue sauce on top. The second, and our very favorite way, is with coleslaw layered on top.
In case you missed the August 3, 2022 issue of the San Juan Record, here are the recipes for Coleslaw Dressing and putting together Coleslaw itself:
2 cups mayonnaise
2 and ½ Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. white vinegar
½ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
½ tsp. celery seed
Whisk all ingredients together in bowl until smooth and creamy.
To Make Coleslaw
In a large bowl containing 1 lb. shredded white cabbage (or ½ lb. white plus ½ lb. purple) plus ½ cup shredded carrot, pour dressing over; toss until all vegetables are coated.
Makes 8 servings of Coleslaw.
If you have a good amount of barbecue sauce left over after the pork is all gone, put it in a plastic bowl and into the freezer for about an hour.
Any fat in the sauce will solidify at the top and you can scoop it off to throw away. Seal the container, label it, and keep it in the freezer for up to six months until you need barbecue sauce again. Cooking it with the pork doesn’t ruin the flavor; it only enhances it.
There you have it. Smoky, juicy pork barbecue made in the kitchen simply with a crock pot. Enjoy!